POLITICS

These Anti-Japanese Signs From World War II Are A Warning Against Bigotry Today

"We don't want any Japs back here -- EVER!" reads one WWII-era sign.

12/07/2017 17:43 EST

The bombing of Pearl Harbor not only marked a turning point in America’s role in World War II, but also helped catalyze rampant anti-Japanese sentiment across the country. 

Americans ― Japanese-Americans ― bore the brunt of this xenophobia. As bold signs with bigoted slogans were erected on storefronts and stories like ″“How to Tell Japs from the Chinese” were splashed across the pages of newspapers and magazines, Americans of Japanese descent were quickly painted as “the enemy.” 

These racist attitudes, perpetuated by government officials, had real consequences for Japanese-Americans. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 paved the way for more than 110,000 of them to be forced from their homes and imprisoned behind barbed wire during the war. What’s more, their detention received Congress’ blessing. 

On Thursday, the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans look back on the tragedy that changed the lives of so many citizens. Against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting travelers from mostly Muslim-majority countries, World War II-era propaganda and signs remind us what happens when an entire group of people is scapegoated during a time of conflict. 

Scroll down below to see anti-Japanese wartime propaganda. 

National Archives
A U.S. Army poster during WWII. 
National Archives
A comic strip from the U.S. Army, distributed to soldiers. 
National Archives
Galerie Bilderwelt via Getty Images
A poster used in the Douglas Aircraft Company factories after Pearl Harbor to help reduce waste. 
US War Department
An image from a comic strip that was distributed to U.S. soldiers.
US War Department
An image from a comic strip that was distributed to U.S. soldiers.
National Archives
Propaganda artwork depicting "Tokio Kid," a Japanese-inspired character meant to perpetuate stereotypes that Japanese people were dangerous murderers. 
National Archives
A U.S. Army poster from World War II. 
Library of Congress via Getty Images
A swimming pool advertisement. 
Rykoff Collection via Getty Images
A postcard of Uncle Sam, slapping a Japanese soldier. 
Bettmann via Getty Images
A barber points to his own anti-Japanese sign after Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during World War II.
Universal History Archive via Getty Images
An American anti-Japanese propaganda magazine. 
Universal History Archive via Getty Images
American anti-Japanese propaganda poster featuring a depiction of Japanese General Hideki Tojo.
Buyenlarge via Getty Images
A newspaper from circa 1942. 
Universal History Archive via Getty Images
American anti-Japanese propaganda poster.